Terrified child stopped breathing as shots fired at Belfast house
A five-year-old girl in Northern Ireland was left so traumatised that she stopped breathing after shots were fired at a house.
The incident took place in west Belfast just after 10pm on Wednesday night. The child was upstairs in the house on Aitnamona Crescent along with her 27-year-old cousin at the time of the incident.
Her cousin described the terrifying moments that left her young relative in shock.
"I heard a bang and it just sounded like someone was putting their fist to the windows. I didn't actually think there were shots being fired at the house, and then two minutes later I heard another one, and then another one, and then another one," she told the BBC.
"After that I just stood in the room, my cousin was squealing at that point and physically shaking as well as myself."
The woman, who is a nurse, helped revive her little cousin along with other family members, saying that she stopped breathing.
"My aunts were beating on her chest as she had stopped breathing, she was shaking, she went all limp and eventually she did breathe," she said.
The woman said that the child is so shaken that she won't leave her mother's side.
"She was supposed to come down today and she said 'no, I don't want to come down' because she is that scared," she added. "And she is asking me if I'm okay. A five-year-old shouldn't have to think of stuff like that and shouldn't have to see things like that."
A neighbour who has lived on the street for 12 years told the Belfast Telegraph that the community was in shock following the attack.
"The poor girl's nerves were wrecked. I'm sure she is traumatised, and the wee one," they added.
"She was too scared to come out of the house afterwards. Everyone was trying to coax her to come out but she was terrified.
"I said to her brother last night, thank God she wasn't in the living room. If they'd have been down the stairs it could have been worse."
The attack left four bullet holes in the living room window which was beside the sofa.
Sinn Fein's Paul Maskey said he is thankful that no one was injured and slammed the attack.
"There is no place in our society for attacks like this," he said.
The West Belfast MP has called on anyone with information to contact the PSNI.
Detective Inspector Mark McHaffie said officers are carrying out a number of follow-up enquiries and are particularly keen to speak to anyone who was in the area at the time.